Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


cognates from Lithuanian to Sanskrit and Greek
August 19, 2012 2:53 AM   Subscribe

"Puzzling Heritage: The verb 'fart.'"
Both words for the emission of wind (fart and fist) were current in the Old Germanic languages. Frata and físa (the accent over the vowel designates its length, not stress) turned up even in Old Icelandic mythological poems. According to a popular tale, the great god Thor was duped by a giant and spent a night in a mitten, which he took for a house. He was so frightened, as his adversary put it, that he dared neither sneeze nor “fist.” In another poem, the goddess Freyja, notorious for her amatory escapades, was found in bed with her brother and farted (apparently shocked by the discovery).
On Farting: Language and Laughter in the Middle Ages
We begin with the paradoxical silence around the fart (16), the shame surrounding its emission, the silent-but-deadly fart (‘vesse’ Trust the Gallo-Romans to have a word for it!(17)), the Middle Ages’ ‘high comfort level’ with the fart, Roland the Farter’s feudal payment of one fart, medieval lack of privacy, proverbs about shit and defecation, the compulsion to use the scatological in elementary Latin grammatical education, the logic of the fart (how to divide one), the musical bum (both Boschian demons and proto-Pujolic pétomanes [already in Augustine]), farts elicited by movement, carminatives (18) charms to induce farting, its ‘audible violence,’ smell as the mediating sense (non-haptic), the stench of sin, sexual sedition in the privy, internal and external winds, breaths, spirits, and exhalations, microcosm and macrocosm, erections raised by air (not blood), farts as barometers of virility,(19) the death fart (crepitus mortis), the testamentary fart, the fart as Pentecostal spirit, the fart omen of Baby Hermes, death in the privy, Dante’s hell as intestinal, insect trials (p. 87), ubiquity of demons, anal death throes, exsufflatio at baptism, connections between gold and shit and alchemy, and ‘Duck-Rabbit, Face-Bottom’ (pp. 104–5), which comes out of nowhere and concludes the section primarily concerned with ‘laughter.’
MeFi's own languagehat discusses the etymology of two kinds of fart.

Previously on MetaFilter: The Language of Farting
posted by the man of twists and turns (30 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
well, that led to me googling Roland the Farter, and that sent me to Le Pétomane...

At first, the audience was astonished at the bizarre spectacle. But when the first uncontrollable laughter erupted from the crowd, it quickly spread throughout the theater. Soon the men and women were completely paralyzed with laughter, with tears streaming down their cheeks. A number of women passed out, unable to breathe in their tightly bound corsets, and had to be escorted from the theater by nurses.

For the second part of his act, he stepped offstage and inserted a rubber tube into his orifice, which dangled out of a hole in the back of his trousers. His used the tube to smoke two cigarettes at once, one from each end; to blow out the flames of stage lights; and as a grand finale, he attached an ocarina to the end of the hose, and played popular tunes while inviting the audience to sing along.


...and, well, yeah, thanks for that I think..
posted by mannequito at 3:11 AM on August 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


Oh this is great - I've been trying so hard not to derail the wind energy thread with innapropriate humor, now I can just let go.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:17 AM on August 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fists of Fury takes on a whole new meaning.
posted by a non e mouse at 3:54 AM on August 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Mannequito, wow, that is amazing. Who knew Fartin Gary had a basis in reality? From that link:
While Joseph was in the army he amused his fellow soldiers with his lowbrow tricks, and they gave him the nickname “Le Pétomane,” which translates roughly to “fartiste.”
posted by molecicco at 4:09 AM on August 19, 2012


Le Pétomane: previously and previously-er
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:24 AM on August 19, 2012


I have alway thought it one of Mel Brooks's more subtle jokes that Governor William J. LePetomane was in the same movie that gave us this scene.
posted by TedW at 6:21 AM on August 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Anatoly Liberman was one of my favorite teachers, even if I completely failed his Old Saxon class because it was HARDCORE. That man does not fool around with Germanic languages.
posted by cthuljew at 6:51 AM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


So thanks to an awful sex act performed by maybe 0.5% of the population, and probably even only once or twice in a lifetime for 95% of those, we can't reclaim the word passed down to us from our ancient ancestors for an activity done by 100% of the population many times daily.
posted by dgaicun at 7:03 AM on August 19, 2012


Oh man, this reminds me of the lay-research I did into the etymology of poop last winter. Not to poup my own horn.
posted by cortex at 7:17 AM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I spend half my workday fisting my ass off in my cubicle.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:31 AM on August 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


we can't reclaim the word passed down to us from our ancient ancestors for an activity done by 100% of the population many times daily.

Well, we can always make a new word. I nominate "tweet."
posted by yoink at 8:15 AM on August 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


louis ck on farts
posted by the theory of revolution at 8:17 AM on August 19, 2012


Metafilter: an anecdotal stream of consciousness, punctuated into fits and farts
posted by notashroom at 8:30 AM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


So thanks to an awful sex act performed by maybe 0.5% of the population

"Awful"?
​For many of us queers, fisting - the insertion of a hand into a person's vagina or anus - is an important and regular part of our sex-lives.
posted by notashroom at 8:39 AM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


In Old French, the reflex of ped- was pet-; hence petard.
Hmmm, maybe "hoist by his own petard" should describe a particularly energetic fart that propels you like a rocket.
posted by 445supermag at 8:40 AM on August 19, 2012


Seeing ausfahrt signs while driving in Germany made us all chuckle. I naturally assumed that had something to do with the English word.
posted by tommasz at 9:04 AM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Certainly time for some input from Vic and Bob.
posted by merocet at 9:10 AM on August 19, 2012


The time is ripe for farters to seize the opening and take back fisting.

The battle will be swift and silent, but deadly.
posted by zippy at 9:59 AM on August 19, 2012


"fizzle"?
posted by eustatic at 10:12 AM on August 19, 2012


Fo' shizzle.
posted by zippy at 10:28 AM on August 19, 2012


There is a theory, isn't there, that common words are often grammatically irregular because they get learned early and repeated often (and so preserve old forms that got simplified/regularised out for less common words).

What would that tell us about the amazing long-term constancy of 'fart'?
posted by Segundus at 10:37 AM on August 19, 2012


That people use the word often, probably because they've always made fart jokes (previously)
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:44 AM on August 19, 2012


What would that tell us about the amazing long-term constancy of 'fart'?

Not much, since "fart" is not grammatically irregular: To fart, farted, have farted.

Perhaps we should irregularize it to strengthen it to its original glory!
I propose: To fart, furt, have forten.
posted by sour cream at 10:48 AM on August 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


so, I can do this in high C....watch.

....oops...

excuse me for a minute.
posted by mule98J at 11:29 AM on August 19, 2012


The great god Thor was duped by a giant and spent a night in a mitten, which he took for a house. He was so frightened, as his adversary put it, that he dared neither sneeze nor “fist.”
This is the perfect script for Thor 3.
posted by elgilito at 11:38 AM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: fart and fist.
posted by Splunge at 12:07 PM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


“Anal Death Throes” by Crepitus Mortis wasn't as good as their early EPs.
posted by acb at 12:09 PM on August 19, 2012


I liked the illustration of 'professional farters' performing at a feast in Ireland long ago. I never heard of such a thing! Amazing!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 2:45 AM on August 20, 2012


Passing gas is an art and science: Why can't we talk out of our rears? Are those movie explosions possible? A scientist puts farts under a microscope
posted by homunculus at 11:32 PM on August 22, 2012


I have a pass that allows me to fahrt pretty much everywhere in Switzerland. It's a sort of "Fahrschein". So if a Fahrschein allows you to fahrt, an Angelschein allows you to fish, what were all those monkeyscheins my dad complained of, all about?
posted by Goofyy at 11:46 AM on August 25, 2012


« Older The Day Britain Stopped - Back in 2003 a train str...  |  The Curiosity rover is prepari... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments